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  • ICAA Record ID
    [El Museo Nacional de Artes Plasticas] / [Fernando Gamboa]
    Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas : Palacio de Bellas Artes : Musee National d'Arts Plastiques : National Museum of Plastic Arts. -- Mexico : Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Secretaria de Educación Publica, 1947
    p. 7-31
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    [Gamboa, Fernando]. [El Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas]. Exh. cat., Mexico City: Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas, Palacio de Bellas Artes, 1947.
    Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas

This text, attributed to Fernando Gamboa, defines how Mexican Art is to be classified in the coming decades: Pre-Hispanic, colonial, nineteenth-century, popular, and contemporary art. His department’s fundamental goal was to create a Museo Dinámico [Dynamic Museum] that would be responsible for gathering and safeguarding Mexico’s national art treasures. The plan was to divide the Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas into a variety of spaces, as follows: the largest and finest would be devoted to contemporary art; David Alfaro Siqueiros would occupy one of the rooms on the ground floor; Pre-Hispanic and colonial art would be placed in the entrances; and popular art was to be exhibited in a space along the side of the building and in the hallways. He [Gamboa] temporarily hung three works by José Maria Velasco in the foyer, where temporary exhibitions were to be installed, and he placed the self- portraits of contemporary artists in the national salon. The small rooms on the third floor were named after nineteenth-century artists: Pelegrin Clavé, Eugenio Landesio, and their students. The grand outdoor gallery was devoted to the mural paintings of Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and Siqueiros. The catalog includes photographs of a portion of the original collection and the plans for the layout of the exhibition rooms at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. There are brief, laudatory texts describing each space.    


This is the catalogue for the inaugural exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. There is an official directory that mentions the Minister of Public Education. We can deduce from the note at the end of the catalogue that the texts were written by Fernando Gamboa—who at that time was head of the visual arts department and director of the Museum. The exhibition excludes, as a whole, the group known as contemporary artists, which had already coalesced. Certain isolated works are shown, however, among them, one by Julio Castellanos. The canon that defines the periods of Mexican art—divided into Pre-Hispanic, colonial, nineteenth-century, popular, and contemporary art—echoes the genealogical hierarchy established for the 1940 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and was still used, officially, through the 1970s and, particularly, at the exhibition Treinta siglos de arte mexicano [Thirty Centuries of Mexican Art] that was also held in New York in 1990.   

Esther Acevedo
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Donación Alma Mérida : Museo Nacional de Arte